Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Did This Really Just Happen In My House?

Food Fight Judges from left to right: Debbie Gold,
Katie Van Luchene, Doug Frost, and me.
(Debbie appears super interested in my story)
Apparently not all home-cooked meals are created equally. We regularly attend an annual fundraiser for the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI). The event, known as Food Fight, includes an "Iron Chef-style" cooking competition between several local chefs. I have been fortunate enough to sit at the judges' table at this competition for the last two years. The fundraiser also includes a live auction of some really incredible experiences one of which this year was a dinner for eight cooked in your home by Chef Jennifer Maloney of Cafe Sebastienne at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art here in Kansas City. Our good friends (and CCVI patrons) Bill & Laura agreed to team up with us to win this particular auction item. And win we did.
Chefs Linda Duerr and Jennifer Maloney showing me what's actually possible in mu suburban kitchen.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Start Your Sunday With Brunch at Story

Sometimes you find restaurants (even the obvious ones) the strangest ways. Last Saturday I had the pleasure of running the half-Marathon portion of the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon and unexpectedly found myself in a pace group with my friends Andy and Laurie. We were cold (temperature at start was 34º F) but working hard, burning calories and talk eventually gravitated toward food in general and KC restaurants in particular. We compared favorites (too many to list), bemoaned the dogs (not going there) and tried to come up with a recommendation that one of us hadn't tried. Eventually Andy asked, "Have you tried brunch at Story?" I had not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Six Reasons to Toast Duvel's Purchase of Boulevard Brewing Company

It's been less than one week since the big announcement that Boulevard Brewing Company was being sold to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat (the first part is pronounced DOO-Vell, in conversation I suggest just dropping that second bit). Much of the on-line reaction that immediately followed the news was decidedly negative with Facebook and Twitter flaring up with cries of "Sellout!", "You can't do this!", and varying versions of, "I'll never drink Boulevard again!". No one should be surprised by the knee-jerk reactions and the ensuing hyperbole. After all it's like your best friend walks into the room and announces, "Guess what? I'm getting married!" and you're all like, "Wut? I didn't even know you were dating!" But you know what? I think everything is going to be A-OK. I'm an optimist at heart anyway but having given the whole thing a lot of thought here are the reasons that I think everyone in Kansas City should embrace John McDonald's decision to sell his beloved brewery:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Beyond Cocktails: Beertails vs. Winetails

I recently posted about the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival held in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. One of the highlights of this five-day event was a very special dinner held at The American Restaurant. The theme was "Beertails vs. Winetails" and I was pretty intrigued by the invite (see below).

First of all, I had been looking for a good excuse to visit The American and try out new Executive Chef Michael Corvino's craftwork. Corvino is the latest in an impressive list of executive chef's at this storied Kansas City icon that includes James Beard Award winners Debbie Gold, Michael Smith, and Celina Tio. Corvino's menu for this event was a hybrid of items from his new dinner menu as well as a few courses designed specifically for this meal. Seeing items from the standard dinner menu was a nice surprise as it's not unusual for restaurants to simplify menu items when hosting a banquet-style event. A copy of our menu is below. None of the courses disappointed and the Cold Poached Lobster and Slow Roasted Pig were (IMHO) stellar.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival 2013 - Bartending Competition

True story: Back in college and on one of the many occasions I was short on cash I had the bright idea to place a classified ad in the local paper (people, this was pre-internet) offering my bartending services for private parties. My qualifications for this service? Less than zero. Not only was I underage, but I had never mixed anything more complicated than a Screwdriver in my life. The foibles of youth. Anyway, someone actually calls me and I get a gig at some random, newly minted dentist's birthday party. I tried to memorize some cocktail recipes beforehand but ultimately wound up winging it all night long. I learned many things that night. Among them:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

First Impressions - Novel

Kansas City's Newest Restaurant, Novel located 
in the charming Westside neighborhood
The little intersection at 17th & Summit in Kansas City's Westside neighborhood just keeps getting better. Last week Novel opened in a charming century-old house that overlooks 17th Street from its perch atop a small hill there. It's clear that they have been busy getting this place ready. I have personally rehabbed a 100-year-old house before and it's a lot of work. This space used to be home to Lill's on 17th so chef/owner Ryan Brazeal and team had a head start but they undertook some serious renovations all the same. The kitchen is significantly larger (no small feat) and they have added a cozy little bar tucked just off the entrance (a bit like the bar at The Westside Local just around the corner). This place oozes charm and feels like the neighborhood restaurant that it is.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July Amuse Bouche - Recent Dining Highlights

Let me start with apologies to my regular readers (all six of you) for my lack of posts recently. My real job (the one that pays for all these meals) has kept me pretty busy lately.

So, I'm taking the easy way out and doing an Amuse Bouche post - little bite-size treats to keep you busy until the main course is ready.

Here are some of my dining highlights in and around Kansas City recently:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Omnivore's Delight - Kansas City Butcher Shops

Categorizing myself as an omnivore feels like an understatement. The list of foods I don't eat is so small that my friends can probably recite it from memory (in case you care: blue cheese, raw celery, black licorice). And while this blog leans heavily on the eating out part of my life, you should know that I also cook and eat in quite often as well.

I cook meat all year round but there's nothing quite as exciting as the summer grilling (and smoking) season. Most of us have been grilling at least since Memorial Day but I wonder how many have been taking advantage of of Kansas City's local butchers as the source for their meat. After all, your meal is only as good as the ingredients you start with.

For a city its size Kansas City is fortunate to have quite a few quality butcher shops available. Here are the ones I frequent and some of the reasons why:

Missed Connections - Is This Seat Taken?

You are one of my Westport faves and I was so excited to walk in on a recent (busy) Thursday evening to see four barstools available. How lucky am I? I only need two. But it wasn't meant to be. You looked at me with those beautiful Mexican ojos and tried to let me down gently, "I'm sorry, those seats are taken." The look of heartbreak and bewilderment must have been obvious in my eyes and you explained, "The four people seated there are actually outside having drinks and a cigarette..." motioning to the lively and also crowded outdoor scene, "...but they are coming back in."

Oh, what to do? Wait for them to finish with their outside seats? But what if you rebuff my advances again, reminding me that those seats too are taken by four people who have moved back inside for smokeless drinking, but may wish to return to the great outdoors for a nicotine fix?

Love. Heartache. Longing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Celebrity" Taster Drinking Game

As noted in a previous post I was recently asked to be a "celebrity taster" for an episode of Bonnie Rabicoff's, In the Kitchen with Bonnie.

I encourage you to watch all the segments to learn more about how Stewart Lane is reviving and re-inventing pickling and preserving.

In the mean time may I suggest a drinking game based on the segment that features me? The rules are simple:
  1. Grab your favorite beverage and a shot glass.
  2. Click the Play button on the video segment below.
  3. Watch closely to the lower left portion of the video.
  4. Every time it's ridiculously obvious that I'm actually wearing shorts, take a shot. 
  5. Get a designated driver.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Preserving the Harvest - Guest Spot on In the Kitchen with Bonnie

Last week I was asked to be a "Celebrity Taster" for an episode of Bonnie Rabicoff's, In the Kitchen with Bonnie. Celebrity? Not so much. Taster. I'm down with that.

This particular episode is called Preserving the Harvest and features some pretty cool preserved foods prepared by Chef Stewart Lane of Lon Lane's Inspired Creations.

As you can see from the photo below I was joined by (real local celebrity) Elizabeth Alex of NBC Action News.

Video episodes of Bonnie's show are shown on KHEN (Time Warner Channel 17 and Comcast Channel 25) and KCOD (Time Warner Channel 411) and on the web at In the Kitchen's archive. The show is broadcast on the radio on KMBZ as well.

Here's a photo preview of the delicious treats I got to sample...

Click Photo to Enlarge (and read my pithy comments)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sofa King: Earthy - "Morel Dilemma" Cocktail

Morel Dilemma
A recent business trip to Sacramento found me downtown looking for a place to entertain customers. I landed at Ella Dining Room and Bar. Great food, drinks and service. Highly recommended. If you like a little theater while you eat I recommend a seat at one of the two (large) chef's tables. Good times.

This post is not about my meal, but rather it is about a single cocktail that I ordered at the end of the meal. Pictured here, it's called the "Morel Dilemma" - Candy Cap Mushroom Infused Bourbon, Morel Syrup, Artichoke Amaro, Black Truffle.

I love Bourbon. I love morel mushrooms. I've never tried loving them at the same time however. Here was my chance.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Groupon Anxiety? Here's Some Therapy...

Unless you follow the foodie press you probably missed last week's Twitterverse chatter related to former Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings' Groupon dis. His post is pictured here and is pretty self-explanatory.  Now, Ken Jennings' opinion on where he eats and why don't mean much to me but his tweet did get a lot of attention and got me thinking about Kansas City diners' attitudes about Groupon (and similar deal-of-the-day companies).

Let's start with the assumptions in Mr Jennings' tweet...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Art of Eating (and Drinking) at the PV Art Fair

Don't miss out on fresh crepes created by Nadine
before your eyes in front of Cafe Provence.
So, what's the best part about art fairs? You might say, "the art" but c'mon... isn't it just another excuse to mill around with a couple hundred people, have drinks-to-go with old friends, and eat some high-end street food?

The Prairie Village Art Fair is this weekend and as it's practically in my backyard I thought I'd share some eating and drinking information to help make it worth your while.

Foodwise this art fair has come a long way. Not only do you have nationally acclaimed French bistro Cafe Provence (previous review) right in the middle of the action but add to that Story (2013 James Beard semi-finalist chef), Tavern in the Village (locals love this place), and newcomer STANDEES (bar/restaurant/movie theater - seriously).

Information below was provided by the establishments themselves (with a couple of comments added from me). All restaurants will be cash-only for outside, patio, and tent purchases.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First Impressions: Voltaire

❝Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.❞ 

~ Voltaire

Give God his due but I would also send proper respect to chefs and bartenders - especially the kind you find at Voltaire's namesake restaurant newly opened in the West Bottoms. Fans of R Bar, which closed just over a year ago, will be happy to learn that its replacement tenant appears to be living up to some important standards - namely an interesting and tasty menu as well as imaginative quality cocktails.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sofa King: Earthy - Mushrooms From "The Morel Man"

"Mushroom Man" Rick Simpson (pictured) is still selling his freshly picked morels in the parking lot of McGonigle's on Thursdays. $25 gets you a half pound bag - about 35-40 mushrooms. They're not cheap but they are good. I bought my bag this afternoon. Rick is pretty certain that he'll still be selling next Thursday as well. After that, it depends on the weather.

He sells them in a Ziplok bag for convenience but make sure you don't keep them sealed up for long (or at all) as this will trap moisture and speed the rotting process.  Keep them in an open container in the refrigerator and they'll last at least 4-5 days. Mine should be gone by morning.

$25 worth of morels

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Little Airstream That Could (and Did) - Port Fonda

This is the only photo of mine I could find
of the original Airstream-based Port Fonda. 
I've only been at this blogging thing for about five months but already I feel like I'm neglecting some of my very favorite places to eat and drink in Kansas City. Fitting squarely in that category is Port Fonda - a not-your-abuelo's Mexican joint that would be a good fit in any major urban center (thankfully it's in mine). Much good has been written about this Westport gem and I'm not better than The Star, The Pitch, Bonjwing Lee's Ulterior Epicure or The New York Times so you can read their reviews by following those links. I'll spend my time talking about why I love this place and why I think some misguided souls don't get it.

Like many lucky Kansas Citians I discovered Port Fonda several years ago when it was based out of an Airstream that parked in a few strategic locations around the city. My favorite spot was the parking lot at the Rieger Hotel & Exchange for the simple reason that Airstream Port Fonda didn't serve alcohol and some of the best drinks in town can be found at both The Rieger and Manifesto (same building, in the basement). Outrageously good street tacos in the parking lot followed by a drink or three at one or both of these places and it's a good evening.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sofa King: Sweet - New Desserts at Cafe Provence

A little eye-candy to jump start your weekend.

Café Provence has a new spring menu that includes two new and decadent desserts that must be tried.

My personal favorite is the Passion Fruit Tarte. It's pretty. It's sweet. It's tart. The whole package.

Chocolate addicts will appreciate the new Chocolate Bombe. get your chocolate fix without an actual overdose. Chocolate mousse center keeps it light

Tarte aux Fruits de la Passion
Passion Fruit Tart with raspberry coulis, chantilly

Bombe au Chocolat
Chocolate ganache covered chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis center,
flour less chocolate cake and creme anglaise

Missed Connections: What's That Scent You're Wearing?

You were a trendy Plaza hotspot with a big patio. I was at the bar enjoying several of your hand crafted cocktails. Suddenly the unmistakable aroma of bleach was subtly wafting through the bar area. Moments later it wasn't so subtle.

Coco Chanel once said, "A woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed.” I say leave the bleach in the bottle until after the place is closed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rejected (But Not Bitter): Battle Burgers @ BRGR

Close your eyes and imagine this burger:
The Braxton
Layered from bottom to top: Buttered/grilled potato bun, BRGR-style hamburger patty, Provolone cheese, smoked beef brisket (texture almost like pot roast), small squirt of BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, buttered/grilled potato bun.

Keep imagining it, because the only way you're getting one is by invite to my house some weekend this summer.

Burger Battle Menu
Click to enlarge
The Braxton was my submission to the BRGR Burger Battle - where ordinary citizens submit burger recipes to be culled by their top chefs. Make it through that first pass and your burger is placed on a special Burger Battle menu (pictured) during the month of May. The burger that is ordered the most will be placed on BRGR's permanent menu and the associated entrant gets a burger a week for a year (yikes).

I didn't make the cut. And I swear I'm not bitter (though loyal readers are free to petition, march or otherwise let your voice be heard). What am I going to do with 52 burgers this year? Anyway, I like their choices. BRGR owners Bread & Butter Concepts continue to experiment with ways to keep their diners engaged. Some things work, some don't. I appreciate the effort and the risk taking.

Mama's Meatloaf Burger
by Beth Anderson
I did have a chance to sample one of the selected burgers this week - Mama's Meatloaf Burger by Beth Anderson (pictured at left). This baby goes like this: Meatloaf Patty (onions, celery, carrots, peppers, well-seasoned), BRGR ketchup glaze, mashed potatoes and crispy onions on Texas toast.

Nice work Beth. More than I should be eating for lunch but 'twas good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

First Impressions: Peanches - Don't Judge This Book By Its Cover

[This restaurant is no longer open - KM]
Do you ever check Google or Bing Maps and use their street view feature to see what a place looks like before you venture out? I do it all the time and have convinced myself that I'm pretty good at making accurate snap judgements based on curb appeal alone. This time I was dead wrong. What you see here is Bing's Street Side View of a strip mall on 39th Street just about a block west of Southwest Trafficway. The tenant on the far right side is Peanches - a decidedly underwhelming looking restaurant with a culinary surprise hidden behind a depressing facade. I've personally driven past this place dozens of times and never even paid attention to it. That changed for the better last Saturday night.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I've Shed A Few Pounds Recently. Here's How...

It probably goes without saying that I have a voracious appetite for good food and adult beverages. Readers of this blog and followers of my Facebook and Twitter food photos have asked how it is that I don't weigh 250+ pounds. Honestly, until recently it was reasonably easy to balance my caloric intake with an appropriate amount of exercise to keep my weight in check. Unfortunately vices have a way of sneaking up on you at age 47 much more than they did at 37. So it was that after a particularly festive and decadent 2012 holiday season I found myself looking for ways to trim down a bit.

Reducing alcohol consumption seemed like a good way
to shed some pounds right? Well... maybe.
Alcohol consumption seemed like low hanging fruit ready to be pruned. I was enjoying several glasses of wine nearly every weeknight as well as wine, beer, and cocktails on weekends. My thought was to create a clear delineation between weekends and weekdays, drinking days vs. non-drinking days. Now for my purposes the weekend always starts on Thursday so I decided beer, wine and cocktails were OK on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Alcohol would be off-limits Sunday through Wednesday. (It's worth pointing out here that my wife is an active participant in all this. She is an enthusiastic partner in both the vices and the remedies.)

For me, the alcohol deprivation was (is) extremely boring and only marginally effective. Between mid-January and March 1st I was happy to see about five pounds go away. But that's where it leveled off. Five pounds lighter and a cup of hot herbal tea watching Game of Thrones on Sunday night? Meh.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Establishing My Metro Bona Fides at Bloomsbury Bistro

How's this for establishing my metrosexual bona fides? I found a charming bistro in an antique mall through a hair salon referral. Hey, whatever works.

The Bloomsbury Bistro is easy to miss. It's located in the back of the Mission Road Antique Mall which is located behind the very easy to find Panera Bread in Prairie Village.  Even though I'd been to the antique mall several times before I never really paid much attention to the restaurant. Knowing my appetite for good eats my friend Cyndy Johnston, owner of Sopra Salon across the street, recommended it to me.

My wife and I have a pet expression for ladies of a certain age (the age is somewhat variable but let's say north of 60) - "So stinkin' cute". And that would be the first thing you notice at The Bloomsbury Bistro - the place is practically overflowing with charming, well dressed ladies that are well, just "so stinkin' cute". It also appears to be a popular Mother/Daughter or even Mother/Daughter/Granddaughter spot. I haven't quite reached the point where that fact would attract me to a restaurant but it doesn't necessarily scare me off either. Especially if the food is good. (Sidebar where the exception proves the rule: On my most recent visit there were no fewer than three tables with gentlemen dining alone).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

So, Your Kid Is Going To Kansas State Next Year? Bring Home the Butter...

K-State Communications and Marketing Photography: History of K-State &emdash; Call Hall ice cream 1941Congratulations! Your son/daughter is heading to Manhattan, Kansas. The Little Apple. Home of the Wildcats. Aggieville. Bill Snyder. Call Hall. OK, maybe you haven't heard of that last one but if you like to eat (you do like to eat, right?), and if you cook (even a little) you'll want to find Call Hall and make it a regular stop during your day trips to campus.

Built in 1963, Call Hall is named for Dr. Leland Everett Call, who joined the K-State faculty in 1907. Call served 21 years as dean of agriculture, beginning in 1925. A year after it was built, the building became home to the K-State Dairy Processing Plant and the Dairy Bar (photo). The Dairy Bar has always been a favorite of those seeking their made-on-the-premises ice creams. It's good stuff and you should try it. But do not leave campus without some butter. Sold in one-pound bricks this butter is some of the most wonderful 16 ounces of churned goodness you can find.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Indulge: Spargelkarte (White Asparagus Menu) at Affäre

It's probably been 25 years now, the first time I traveled to Munich, Germany. At the time, as a young man traveling on business, I'm sure it was good Bavarian beer that I was looking forward to. Looking back however, it was the German asparagus that I remember most. It was late April, maybe early May and I didn't know it at the time but I was stepping into a magical culinary window of time in Germany known as Spargel Season. Walk through the center of town in any German city this time of year and large chalkboards in front of every restaurant herald the arrival of spargel in a long list of dinner specials built around the celebrity vegetable. "Was ist spargel? (What is spargel?)" I asked in a poorly accented German that only an American can manage. The friendly restauranteur whose English was worse than my German gestured enthusiastically with his hands for me to follow him into his establishment. Once inside he proudly pointed to a simple dish containing several fat, white (admittedly phallic) spears the likes of which I did not recognize. "Spargel!" he said triumphantly. I shrugged my shoulders, still confused, and asked to be seated. I ate spargel for three days straight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Missed Connections: This Little Blogger Went to Market

You were a popular Northeast JoCo farmer's market. I was a long-time admirer. You promised to be there today. I made a point of coming to see you (in the rain!). I was there. You were not. I still care. Please prove that you care too and fix your Facebook page.

Friday, April 12, 2013

First Sip - T. Loft Opens

Lately I've been trying to use my Friday mornings to get around to as many coffee joints as possible. I'm an espresso latte drinker on Friday mornings and Kansas City has lots to offer characters like me. So it was with some trepidation and a mild sense of adventure that I slipped into Kansas City's newest addition -  T. Loft. Trepidation because T. Loft has lattes, but no espresso. No coffee of any kind for that matter. That's by design of course. And a little scary for a coffee guy.

T. Loft owner Jill Minton (enthusiastically)
describes her menu.
I introduced myself to owner Jill Minton and explained my preference for espresso beverages. After a little back-and-forth she recommended I try the Coconut Almond Latte (a blend of coconut tea and their own house-made almond milk). While my drink was being prepared Ms. Minton explained the other store offerings including dozens of tea blends (available hot, cold or loose-leaf to brew at home), fresh juice blends, and a variety of gluten-free pastries.

Verdict on my drink? It won't be replacing my espresso latte on a regular basis but it was a very tasty alternative all the same. I'm anxious to return in the coming weeks for some of the fresh juice blends.

T. Loft (8025 State Line Road) has been in soft opening mode since Sunday.  Their Grand Opening is tomorrow.

Have you been to T. Loft yet? Weigh in with your opinion below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quotable Twain

"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry."  

- Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whatever Debbie Gold Is Up To, I Promise To Pay More Attention This Time

This was supposed to be a blog post about the amazing dinner Shelly and I experienced at The American Restaurant when we celebrated our anniversary several weeks ago. It was going to go something like this:
  1. I get married 17 years ago and move to Kansas City.
  2. Soon afterward, blushing bride and I eat at Kansas City gem The American Restaurant and have a wonderful meal overlooking Crown Center during a December snowfall. Magical.
  3. For various (and indefensible) reasons we wait until last month (17 years!) to return to The American and marvel at what we'd been missing. 
  4. Accolades for Executive Chef Debbie Gold. 
  5. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
  6. Food Porn Photos.
Things can change fast. Just this week Ms. Gold pulled a fast one and announced her upcoming departure from The American. Where she's going next is super double secret spy stuff and known only to those who know. Suffice it to say however, this time I will pay more attention and not ignore this local talent.

I'll save the yadda, yadda, yadda for Debbie's new digs and whatever The American does post-DG

But you still want photos. And here they are:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Board at Louie's Wine Dive

I'm not going to lie. When I first heard that this place was going to be called Louie's Wine Dive I was less than enthusiastic. Wine Dive just sounded a little to hipster for me - and I'm more than tired of the hipster business ethic that seems to be based on inattentive service by brooding, bearded twenty-somethings. My misgivings faded when I read some of the pre-opening press and learned that many of their menu items included meats from Local Pig. I immediately put them on my list.

They've obviously found an audience. When Shelly and I visited soon after their opening in October 2012 there was a medium crowd - busy, but far from full.  We returned in December and it was decidedly more popular. Immediate seating but not much. Then, in an attempt to take some friends on a cold January Saturday night, we faced a 90-minute wait for a table at 7:30 PM. Good for Louie's. Bad for us. We moved on.

This past Saturday we were back - this time arriving on the early side of evening in order to watch a 6:00 PM March Madness basketball game at the bar. As luck would have it we found two seats at the bar directly in front of one of their two TVs. Interesting observation: This place fills and slows in waves. Standing room only one moment, thirty minutes later there are bar tables available.

So, what's all the fuss about? From my perspective Louie's Wine Dive is doing more than a few things right:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Shouldn't Be So Good - Chicken Burger at Beer Kitchen

As a general rule I don't order much chicken when I'm eating out. At the top of my taboo list is any kind of chicken burger, chicken sandwich, you get the idea... boooring. So it was, several Saturdays ago that Shelly and I sat down at the bar at Beer Kitchen and prepared to order brunch. A chatty young woman next to us said without invitation, "Get the Creole Chicken Burger.  It's awesome!" Um, thanks Chatty Girl? We're fine. "Seriously. It's the only thing I ever order here." She motioned to a plate with a half eaten, intriguing-loooking sandwich on it. Oh, what the hell...

And now I'm hooked. I've eaten this spicy little number for both brunch and lunch and am already looking forward to one as a late-night beer chaser. Ground chicken? It shouldn't be this good. But it is. Thanks Chatty Girl. Seriously.

Creole Chicken - Cajun-blackened chicken burger, chipotle white cheddar,
avocado, tomato & chipotle aioli on potato roll

Friday, March 1, 2013

February Amuse-Bouche - Little Things From Last Month

Despite my best intentions (and probably for the good of my readers) sometimes I just don't get around to writing about everything I eat or drink. Maybe the photos turned out lousy or I just don't have enough words that want to be shared. Anyway, herewith are some February tidbits I didn't get around to posting for one reason or another:

Friday, February 22, 2013

JJ's Restaurant Support Fund - One Day Event

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association is organizing a "one day only" benefit this Saturday, February 23 to support JJ's Restaurant. Participating restaurants will be donating 10% of all proceeds from the evening to the JJ's Support Fund. The funds collected will be turned over to JJ’s Restaurant owner, Jimmy Frantze, and his management team to help his staff convalesce.

Participating restaurants include:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Social. Well Done. (Done Well).

Here we are, with both feet in the new millennium, and I am amazed at the number of restaurants (some of my favorites in fact) that still have little or no presence in social media. Even worse, many are doing such a poor job of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc... that their pleas for attention are likely met with feelings of pity.

This is on my mind today as I look out the window at what is likely to become well over a foot of snow falling furiously from the sky.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reservation Roulette - Last Minute Valentine's Day Tables

If you've just realized that Valentine's Day is tomorrow and you haven't bothered with dinner reservations there is still hope. You'll just need to cross your fingers and play a little Reservation Roulette through Open Table's on-line restaurant reservation system.

Let's say you're looking for a 7:00 PM seating - right in the reservation sweet spot. Using Open Table you will see that,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Food Fight! - Local Chefs Square Off for Good Cause

There's a lot to be said about Kansas City. Here are two things that are on my mind right now...
For a metro area its size, Kansas City:
  • ranks among the most charitable cities in the US
  • has an amazingly vibrant and growing food scene 
These factoids are on my mind because they merged serendipitously last night at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI) annual Food Fight. CCVI prepares children with visual impairments to reach their highest potential in the sighted world. Food Fight is a fundraiser that incorporates a number of activities including food tasting stations from some of Kansas City's best restaurants, live and silent auctions, and most notably a cooking competition pitting three local chefs against each other and the clock Iron Chef-style. Chefs prepare three courses that are judged on presentation, taste, and use of a common secret ingredient. While not CCVI's biggest fundraiser it is, in my humble opinion, the most fun.

This years chefs were:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go Ahead, Sleep In - Late Breakfast at Beer Kitchen

OK, I personally don't sleep in. Ever. I'm a 5:00 - 5:30 AM guy on typical mornings. 6:00 AM on weekends. But I recognize that many more normal folks like to call bed their home for a few extra hours on Saturday and Sunday.  Brunch was designed for them. I'm happy to tag along - even if it will be my second meal of the day.

So it was this weekend that we set out on Saturday morning (closer to Noon than actually morning) to have a very late breakfast at Beer Kitchen in Westport. Located right on the corner of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue and home to what must be approaching 100 different beers, Beer Kitchen might seem an unlikely spot for brunch. My experiences here to date were limited to downing a couple of beers after eating elsewhere and on one particularly nice summer day making it a middle stop on an impromptu Westport pub crawl with my wife. It turns out this place knows how to cook.

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Month I Learned - January Roundup

Despite my best intentions (and probably for the good of my readers) sometimes I just don't get around to writing about everything I eat or drink. Maybe the photos turned out lousy or I just don't have enough words that want to be shared. Anyway, herewith are some January tidbits I didn't get around to posting for one reason or another:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First Weekends in the West Bottoms? Lunch at Genessee Royale Bistro

Strangers to the West Bottoms can be forgiven for wondering whether this part of Kansas City is in its ascent or descent. A hulking, mostly idle Kemper Arena and block after block of seemingly empty warehouses and former stockyard buildings suggest the area is well past its prime. The closing of R Bar last year was a tough blow to those of us that liked to eat there and were rooting for the neighborhood.

There is life here however. Fortunately for you and me the West Bottoms has become an outpost for a small but growing number of pioneering artists, entrepreneurs and restauranteurs. My favorite among them is the Genessee Royale Bistro.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New York Times Features Alex Pope of Local Pig

Hot on the heels of a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, local chef and butcher Alex Pope is featured in a New York Times piece on butchers who are eager to teach the public their craft.

Alex is the owner of Local Pig, an amazing little butcher shop in the East Bottoms. I'll provide more details on my experiences there in a future post.

Both recent articles reminded me that I was lucky enough to attend one of Alex's early classes where he taught the art of butchering a hog's head.

Photos from that class follow but some are not for the faint of heart...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Drink This: Prohibition Presidente at The Drum Room

Wandered into The Drum Room bar (in the President Hotel) after a dinner at nearby Webster House Saturday night. Our group of four needed a spot to have a drink or two and finish an evening of stories and laughs. The ladies ordered wine from a respectable list while the gents opted for cocktails. Like so many bars with handcrafted cocktails the list is populated with riffs on old standards tricked up with fresh ingredients and clever names. Befitting a bar in The President Hotel, many of their drinks have names that nod to former American Presidents. We started with Ford's Bramble Tonic ($8.50)  Billed as "President's Ford's Favorite" this was a mix of Pinckney Gin, Lemon Juice, Tonic, Homemade Tonic Syrup and Fresh Blackberries. Solid drink. No complaints.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Café Sebastienne - Restaurant Week

Just a quick look at what Café Sebastienne was offering for Restaurant Week lunch.

Two Courses for $15. Can't go wrong.

Tomato Bisque 
Roasted Butternut Squash Carbonara 
Smoked Crimini Mushrooms, Peas, 
Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pecorino 
Salad with Apples, Roquefort, 
Candied Pecans, Buttermilk Dressing 

Braised Beef Ragu Creamy Polenta, 
Fried Shallots, Red Wine Rosemary 

Kansas City Restaurant Week - So Many Tables

Just a quick update... with four days left in Kansas City Restaurant Week there are an amazing number of reservations available at some very good local establishments.

A quick Open Table search for a table for four at 7:30 PM tomorrow (Friday) night turned up dozens of available seatings between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM.

Three courses for $30 at every participating restaurant.

Get it!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Second Best Reason to Eat (Soon) at Room 39

If you're at all like me you have a  list of area restaurants you keep meaning to visit but every time you go out they slip your mind and you wind up elsewhere. For me Room 39 fits squarely in that category. There's certainly no good reason to not eat here. There are many, many reasons to do so. So what motivated Shelly and I to brave the wind, the cold, and the (mis)forecast snow last night for a quiet meal at Room 39 in Midtown? A coupon. Now I'm not what anyone would consider a coupon guy, but when a $60 for $30 Google Offer from Room 39 landed in my inbox it became a string around my finger, the reminder to eat well. 

You can still get yours if you act soon. You'll need to buy it from Google by end of day Tuesday January 15th and use it before March 28th. Follow this link...

Friday, January 11, 2013

(Still) Crushing on Cafe Provence

I have a crush on Cafe Provence. I wanted to get that out of the way lest my readers start developing their own theories about my relationship with this Prairie Village gem.

It started several years ago when my wife and I wandered into this relatively obscure little French restaurant for lunch. Shelly and I have always been fans of eating out but we never (honestly, never) made any single restaurant a habit. So we certainly weren't looking for anything like that when we ventured out for lunch that day. A lot has happened between then and now, not the least of which is the fact that we eat at Cafe Provence almost once a week.  Usually for lunch but also for an occasional dinner.

So, generally I have a lot of great things to say about this place.  But know this... I don't love it because I eat there every week.  I eat there every week because it is an exceptional restaurant.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kansas City Restaurant Week is Just Around the Corner

Here's your chance to fight hunger and dine at a lot of great Kansas City restaurants for not a lot of money. During Kansas City Restaurant Week (January 18 - 27, 2013) participating restaurants will be offering special multi-course prix fixe menus. Lunches are $15 and Dinners are $30. Hard to beat that.

Kansas City Restaurant Week was created by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association and the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association in an effort to support the local restaurant community spanning both sides of the Missouri and Kansas border. 2010 marked the inaugural year for the 10-day event, designed to spotlight Kansas City as one of the country's premier dining destinations and in partnership with Harvesters – The Community Food Network, to fight hunger in the Kansas City area. The event also benefits The Kansas City Regional Destination Development Foundation and The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association Education Foundation, both nonprofit organizations helping to advance culinary education and the restaurant and tourism industries in Kansas City. Kansas City Restaurant Week featured 127 area restaurants in 2012 and raised $143,000 for Harvesters, translating to 700,000 meals served to the hungry in the Kansas City metro area.

Conveniently Open Table has a special reservation page just for this event.

Need some suggestions? Just short-listing here, but these are a few participating places I've been liking recently:
  • Affäre
  • Louie's Wine Dive (No Open Table)
  • Rye
Seriously, check out the full list.  There's some great ones!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First Impressions - Bier Station Opens in Waldo

Billed as the Midwest's first craft beer tasting bar/bottle shop Bier Station recently opened in Waldo. The idea here is to have a combination tasting bar/bottle shop in a blended pub/retail environment.

First impressions: Clever concept for real beer lovers. Feels a little weird waiting in line at the bar to pay for a can of beer.

As its name implies this is a place for beer lovers. They maintain 21 beers on tap and many, many more are available in cans and bottles. Bottles and cans can be purchased to go as well. Prices are typical of what you'd find at a good beer store. Tap selection is varied and will please all but the tamest (read: Bud Light lovers) beer tastes. 

The setup is very different than what you're likely used to. Upon entering Bier Station you have two basic choices:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Impressions - Rye Opens in Leawood

Rye's open kitchen. The copper-topped table in the
foreground will eventually host Chef's Table seating.
Colby and Megan Garrelts' much anticipated Rye opened last week. Opening week (or month) is arguably the worst time to visit a restaurant. More often than not the menus aren't fixed, the servers are confused and everyone is still bumping into each other in the kitchen. So we arrived Saturday night full of anticipation tempered with realistic expectations.

It was a Saturday night and at 7:00 PM the place was pleasantly packed, full of energy and bustle. It's a handsome space - exuding a subtle masculinity that feels warm and timeless.

It's always fun to watch pro's in action.  Throughout the evening Colby and Megan could variously be seen greeting old friends, gently guiding the staff, or whispering to each other in the corners always keeping an eye on the place like protective parents watching a child at the playground from afar.

First impression: It was the best opening week meal I can remember. Don't wait to visit.

A few more details and photos...